Nowadays, expansions of architecture as science and art are considered widely accepted and embraced. This state of mind is specifically fortunate not only because of the vast variety of inspiration and visuals but also because of the creation of new upcoming hobbies and occupations that may lead to full time jobs and successful business.
I am truly fascinated but that high speed change and eager to explore more and deeper. Discover, meet, study, introduce.
Some months ago I discovered METALEPSIS PROJECTS founded by Victoria Cho and Astrid Chastka, former architects who joined forces and founded a jewellery line influenced by architecture, art and science and infused them into their work, while always exploring different concepts, from techniques and technologies to material combinations and textures.
Victoria and Astrid, have you both studied and practiced architecture?
VC: Yes, I did both my undergrad and grad school in architecture. I probably worked in between and after school total of 7 years in the field.
AC: I studied undergrad at University of Virginia and worked in architecture for 3 years and landscape architecture for 1 before breaking away.
What led you to choose that major?
VC: My godmother was the one who first introduced me to architecture when I was in my teens. It was such a revelation because i realized then that architecture was the perfect combination of the finest art and the science of building and construction.
AC: I took a class called Lessons in Making in the architecture school at UVA (I was enrolled in the school of arts and sciences), and it was a foundation for learning how to make 2D and 3D visual representations. I’ve always loved making things and this class changed my life because after taking it I applied to transfer into the architecture school. Architecture seemed to me where art met science and function and felt at home there.
Being an architect myself I can definitely understand this field’s variety and ability of expansion towards different fields. How come you started your involvement with jewellery design? Was it a mutual challenge and decision? Did you start together?
VC: I always say that no matter how your career and creative paths pan out, the training and knowledge you gain from architecture school are one of the best. It gives you all the tools to be extremely creative and conceptual, yet rigorous and disciplined in how to execute your ideas into the “making” of your final product.
Metalepsis was a byproduct of our friendship and love for making things in small scale. We came from the same architectural background so we spoke the same visual and 3-dimensional language. It was very easy for us to share and get excited about ideas.
AC: Sometimes jewelry seems like a miniature architecture without a lot of the hassle (architectural building codes, fire and egress codes, construction administration). Victoria and I met while working together in a firm, and both felt we wanted to try something that was more creative on a daily basis and smaller scale than architecture.
Were you always into jewellery design or was it an interest that grew over time?
VC: Since was young i always loved the small details, whether is a piece of jewelry or the bow in my mom’s pumps. I’ve always liked accessories more than clothes, so jewelry seemed a very natural choice. We have grown and learned A LOT over the past years!!
AC: I have always been into object design and wearable design also. Jewelry is much more manageable in scale for starting something on your own. And you don’t have to get licensed to do it.
I ‘ll have to say that I find your designs very special and I dare to say unique. Going through my instagram feed, for example, I can always realise a capture and design is yours without even looking at the account name. That’s not only because I’ve spent hours going through your website and collections, therefore I nearly know every piece, but I believe you’ve managed to create a distinguished signature line.
VC: THANK YOU!!
AC: That is the perfect compliment and we take it to heart! We also started metalepsis wanting to make things that looked like nothing else on the market. We try to eschew trends and the fashion calendar in favor of making more lasting pieces with more conceptual depth. Jewelry can be art and can be kept for a very long time. We want our pieces to be valued more for the thought and creativity that went into them than for the materiality.
I am really intrigued by the shapes and material combinations as well as the techniques you use to create your pieces. Could you describe the making process? How has that worked for you? Have you also tried different techniques that you felt like they weren’t able to reflect your vision or aesthetics?
VC: We are always seeking interesting and unusual materials and processes, at least within the jewelry making field. We came across the engineered stones which are available in incredible patterns and colors. Also it was a material that could be laser-cut in any intricate and interesting shape we wanted, in high precision. So it seemed the perfect material to work in combination with our base material of bronze and brass.
We have tried other techniques such as powder coating and enamel. After some trials and samples made, we realized the product wasn’t what we had envisioned. Also we understood that we don’t like “coating” or plating the base metal because we want to stay true to the material.
AC: We are always looking for new materials that feel timeless, maybe technological or unusual, but always grounded. We’ve also used a lot of raw brass, that is allowed to retain the patina from which it emerges from its casting mold. Once you polish or tumble the piece you can never get that finish back. To a jeweler it may look totally ordinary and unfinished, but to us that pattern was incredible when we first saw it. We also love to polish only parts of a piece, to contrast them with the areas of raw metal.
Do you have any designing experimentations that you would like to pursuit? Either in your techniques, materials or something completely different?
VC: We discussed introducing some home and small products that extends our making beyond the jewelry realm. I personally would love to someday launch a furniture collection.
AC: I would like to find more ways to incorporate unusual materials with color into our jewelry! This is an ongoing goal.
Going through your collections, their names definitely caught my eye and I could also see the connection between the titles and designs. Smooth surfaces for the PLANAR, movement for the KINETIC, also references of human body shapes and designs that snap on as gently, definitely influences from space for the ORBITAL, their shapes, material and colour combinations reflect that. For the ALPHABET I guess that the title came first so designs followed along and were shaped according to each letter.
What about the other collections? Do you start by having a feeling and vision about the designs and then comes the title? Does it happen simultaneously or does the title set the style of the whole collection beforehand?
VC: Not necessarily! Actually we begin with one or couple concepts that we want to explore for each edition. After few rounds of design edits and reiterations, we look at the final group as a whole and we decide the name. Kinetic was definitely in our mind from the beginning of our design process. We definitely wanted to explore moving parts, or movable elements within the jewelry.
AC: And oddly enough, the title of the alphabet edition came last, after the pieces were developed! We had been looking at a lot of russian suprematist and constructivist sculpture and fonts, and when we finished designing our pieces just looked so much like a constructivist font we named it Alphabet. That is why we don’t have all the letters in the alphabet. Another goal would be to continue to flesh out the alphabet to offer all of those letters!
This is a question that I always feel like asking. How important is keeping up with each season’s “musts” and trends, for you? I sometimes feel that all the rapid and frequent changes of style, design and trends lead to loosing focus, balance and in the end, identity. I would say that that doesn’t affect your line, but how is it really from the inside?
VC: I try to stay as far as possible from trends! If you’re only chasing seasons and trends, I think you end up hitting a wall and not much is left in your designs. We’re aware of trends to some degree but we thrive for originality and uniqueness in the story that we want to tell with each piece and each collection.
What are your future plans in your career and team? Anything besides jewellery perhaps?
VC: Hopefully will continue to grow in the next year and take one or two inspiration trips somewhere soon!
AC: I’d love for us to continue using our design and 3D printing working method to design display and holding pieces for jewelry. Accessories for our accessories?
Which piece of your designs do you wear the most?
VC: It depends, i love layering the Q with other pieces, like the Neutron or the Disc pendant. For statement, I like the kinetic earrings or the mobius earrings.
AC: My all time favorite is the float cuff. It’s very light and easy to wear, goes with everything I own, and a design we’re really proud of!
In collaboration with METALEPSIS PROJECTS
Photography, styling and editing: @sanssouci.a